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Kennel Cough (see Tracheobronchitis)

 

Kidney Disease


You may be surprised to hear or expect to hear that kidney failure is relatively common in dogs, especially when they start to get older. So even though your dog has been recently diagnosed with kidney failure - don't despair as modern treatments are now available which improve both quality of life and life expectancy.

Dogs like us have 2 kidneys which work as filters in the body removing waste products from the blood stream.

These waste products are then excreted fom the body via the urine. The kidneys also have the function of regulating water balance and produce various hormones.

Many factors such as infections, toxins or just old age can cause kidney damage.

The kidneys start to compensate for this damage by working harder which causes further kidney damage. This deterioration can take months or even years, the end result being chronic renal insufficiency (CRI) or kidney failure.

As the kidneys begin to fail, they become unable to create urine in the normal way. It becomes less concentrated which means your dog may become thirsty and urinate more frequently.

When approximately 2/3 of the kidney tissue has been damaged, toxic waste products begin to build up in the bloodstream which may cause loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting or mouth ulcers. This is why your dog stops eating as it feels nauseous.

The toxic waste build up is excreted through the saliva so you may notice a smelly breath. Muscle deterioration occurs which appears to you as if your dog has suddenly lost a lot of weight.

How is kidney disease diagnosed?

As well as a through physical examination, your veterinary surgeon will usually carry out urine and blood tests if kidney disease is suspected.

Sometimes more advanced procedures, such as x-rays studies, ultrasonography, biopsy or exploratory surgery are required. In many cases of long standing (chronic) kidney disease the precise cause of the damage to the kidneys cannot be identified.

How is kidney disease managed and controlled?

Although an animal suffering from kidney disease may need treatment with drugs and possibly fluid therapy to stabilise its condition, a permanent change to a specially formulated food is the most important long-term measure for controlling the condition.

Make sure that there is plenty of fresh water always available and you will need to change to a low protein kidney diet.

Regular check ups are necessary for your dog's future. It is a disease that cannot be cured and will need treating for the rest of your dog's life but with all the advances in veterinary medicine, they can still lead a good quality of life.